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Advocating Extractive Industries Good Governance, a Story from Southeast Asia 21 January 2013

Morentalisa Hutapea, Institute for Essential Services Reform (IESR)  ~  11:00, 18 January 2013

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) aims to transform its organization of member countries into a single market entity, so it is more competitive in the global market. Various agreements have been reached to boost investment in the region, including in the oil, gas and mining sectors.  

ASEAN should not ignore the fact that extracting natural resources has come at a cost in many Southeast Asian countries. In Indonesia, there are separatist movements in two resource-rich areas, Aceh and Papua, while other Southeast Asian states have suffered environmental degradation from mining industries. Moreover, extractive industries are prone to corruption, which is rampant in the region.

This has been the background for civil society's promotion of better governance of the oil, gas and mining industries at the regional level, targeting ASEAN institutions. These efforts have taken multiple forms over the past years, led in particular by IESR with Revenue Watch support. To continue this work under the IKAT-US project, IESR organized a workshop gathering civil society representatives from the region, from November 27-30, 2012, in Jakarta.

The training aimed to increase civil society participation in ASEAN by giving civil society groups the ability to develop advocacy strategies toward ASEAN in their home countries. This is in line with the IKAT-US project's mission to bring civil society groups across Southeast Asia together to work toward better extractive industry governance.

Participants gained basic knowledge about the extractive industries, ASEAN and its structure and advocacy strategy. The workshop was designed to help participants use their knowledge on extractive industries in the context of ASEAN, as well as understand the benefit of engaging with ASEAN for advocacy.

While problems in extractive industries governance exist in most ASEAN states, ASEAN can create opportunities to raise governance standards regionally. The rapidly growing institution is expected to set some standards for natural resource governance. ASEAN has already incorporated references of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) under its mineral and energy cooperation. The joint press statement from the Third ASEAN Ministerial Meetings on Mineral, held in December 2011, stated:

“The Ministers noted the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) that is known as international quality standard on revenue collection in minerals sector and agreed to include capacity building on EITI in [ASEAN Mineral Cooperation Action Plan] 2011-2015.”

Beyond EITI, IESR and its civil society partners advocate for the adoption of an extractive industries governance framework for ASEAN that would serve as a guide for member countries on managing their natural resource wealth.

At the end of the training, participants were invited to speak with ASEAN officials. During this discussion, I Gusti Agung Wesaka Puja, Director-General of ASEAN Cooperation at the Indonesian Ministry of Foreign Affair, shared his belief that, if not managed carefully, oil and gas will create conflict and harm economic development. “If we can manage it carefully, jointly, it can be a source of development, source of profit, source of prosperity for future generations” said Puja.

Bambang Adi Winarso, from the Coordinating Ministry of Economic Affairs of Indonesia, encouraged participants to keep close ties with government. “Good communication between [civil society organizations] and government officials will lessen the misunderstanding and boost the transformation, and it is very critical for EITI implementation” said Bambang

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